Here’s my take on the political center, which is a mighty important place to be this year, since a relative handful of independent moderates are going to decide the presidential election.
You’re in the center if:
• You believe in government, under restraints. You think government should be smaller in its size and scope, but it should also be big enough to look out for and respond to citizens’ needs. You realize that government is sometimes part of the problem, but you also know it’s the solution from time to time.
• You realize we have to bring down the deficit with a mixture of expense cuts and revenue increases. Perhaps you remember who dissolved the surplus of the 1990s and created our 21st century deficit, but you also blame President Obama and the Democrats for letting the debt get out of hand. You figure there’s enough blame to go all around Washington.
• You’re a capitalist, a believer in the free-market economy, but you recognize that the government must protect the greater good with regulation and oversight.
• You recognize that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are always right or always wrong. So while the nation is being divided up in “red” and “blue” states, you see purple.
• Maybe you resent the idea that America is expected to “police” world conflicts, but you concede that sometimes we don’t have a choice. For example, you see Iran and its buildup to nuclear capability as an issue the U.S. can’t ignore, but you don’t want us to jump to a military solution.
I expect most moderates to have a touch of libertarianism in them, especially when it comes to social issues like abortion, gay marriage and drug laws. Maybe you’re pro-choice but anti-abortion (just as a person can support our soldiers but still be against war). Perhaps you believe government has no business dictating who may marry whom beyond the enforcement of contracts between two consenting adults. You might also believe certain illicit drugs should be decriminalized so that drug abuse becomes a health problem first, before the user’s actions become criminal; and that when people mess up, whether it’s drug-related or not, reasonable consequences should follow.
And maybe this is just me, but I also think centrists believe in our free-speech rights, but also that we have a moral obligation to speak out with decency and respect.
I know I do.
Personally, I believe most of the above, though I tilt a little to the left of center on most issues. Some readers, however, think otherwise. I’ve had left-wingers suggest I’m a little too conservative, while some right-wing readers consider me far too liberal. I don’t get many phone calls telling me how wrong I am, but I certainly get my share of emails and letters (some of which get published; others are expressly intended just for me).
Frankly, I grow tired of the blame game on the left and the right. We’re all part of the problem and the solution, and if that perspective makes me a middle-of-the-roader, I’m fine with that. If you disagree, I’m fine with that too.
Just don’t assume you have a monopoly on the truth. That’s just silly.
• • •
In her passionate response to a complaint filed by attorney Jesus Lopez, former candidate for county treasurer Viola Vigil pointed to two inaccuracies in my June 17 column about the Vigil family. So let me correct the record:
• I wrote that Antonio Vigil had more than one bus when he was accused — not convicted — of using a county-issued credit card to gas them up. Viola Vigil said he was a one-bus owner/operator. I have no reason to doubt her, so I stand corrected about the number of buses he had.
• She also pointed out that I was wrong in stating that her brother-in-law, Michael Vigil, was chairman of the West Las Vegas School Board. She’s correct in noting that, at the time in which I was referring, he was not the chair. He was, however, a school board member at the time.
She was wrong, however, in saying that Lopez was my source for that information about Michael Vigil. I was going off my memory of the circumstances of that time — which, at my age, is usually a very bad idea.
Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org.